As the individual scenarios associated with a particular episode are encountered, some will inevitably lead to conflict between the adventuring party and all encountered creatures (potentially including a specific NPC, or non-playing character, that possesses all the abilities and skills of a party hero but acts as an antagonist within the RPN). When combat occurs, play through the current encounter is temporarily suspended and the battle itself is resolved to determine the victor.
At the beginning of the battle, all encountered creatures—including their names, race, body, mind and spirit scores—are summarized within the main prose panel for the player to review. Roll over the encountered’s name to read a description of the creature, and roll over the race for details regarding the creature’s race. As with the party body, mind and spirit attributes introduced earlier, creature scores are presented with two sets of numbers as well, the first representing the current score and the second representing its maximum. Hence, a body score of “17/30” indicates that of 30 total body points possessed by the encountered creature, 17 are remaining (once body, mind OR spirit is reduced to zero, that creature is defeated and removed from combat).
The player is then required to select a combat option, which determines how his adventuring party should generally react during the round. Three options are provided:
- Attack. Instructs the party to go on the offensive, attempting to do as much damage to encountered beings as possible. Note that damage is not always physical—reducing the enemy’s mind and/or spirit can be just as effective as body. Also note that healerpriests never directly attack; instead, they seek to heal and protect the party, restoring lost body points to severely wounded comrades or raising a protective barrier around the party. Priests DO attack the undead, but attempt to reduce their spirit instead of body.
- Defend. Instructs the party to go on the defensive, protecting itself as much as possible and giving the heroes a chance to lick their wounds and catch their breath before going on the offensive again. While in defense mode, the party seeks only to protect itself; encountered creatures are not harmed, but the heroes take far less damage as well. Further, healerpriests within the party will actively heal the most wounded, so the party can regain some of its strength.
- Intimidate. Through threat and intimidation, it is possible to sometimes drive away weaker creatures without harming them whatsoever. When this combat mode is selected, each member of the party is given an opportunity to browbeat, heckle and otherwise intimidate all encountered creatures, attempting to force their surrender without drawing blood. While the chances of intimidation are relatively low per encountered creature, when it does happen the creature is immediately defeated and removed from combat. Note that NPCs can never be intimidated.
Once a combat option is selected, the RPN will automatically determine the results of the round and then display those results within a separate text field (see adjacent screenshot). Note that those items possessed by the party can be used during combat at any time as well (in the screenshot example, “wustdust” (a sneezing powder used to decrease encountered creature’s ability to attack) was first used, much to the adventuring party’s advantage). After the player has read through the results, he then clicks the “Continue Combat!” link button to continue to the next round, and the process repeats itself until either the party or the encountered creature’s group has emerged victorious.
Again, victory is determined by which side is reduced to zero body, mind or spirit points first. Should the party be victorious, a point of reputation will be earned, a random hero will typically receive a bonus body, mind or spirit point as a sort of experience reward, and any treasure (wealth and/or items) that may be associated with the encounter is gained by the party as well. Such victory will then mark the end of the overall encounter and the player will move on to the next scenario.
Should the party suffer a defeat, however, they are not destroyed. Instead, the heroes are left for dead and the encountered will take all party wealth; the party suffers a loss in reputation as well, and then the player is allowed to move on to the next encounter. Hence, regardless of whether a combative encounter ends in victory or defeat, the party will survive and the storyline itself will always continue forward.